Designing Resilient Storm Water Management

Oakland, California

Featured image for the project, Designing Resilient Storm Water Management

Photo Courtesy of: Greg Linhares, City of Oakland

Oakland is a thriving and dynamic city on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, and its low-lying areas are feeling the impact of sea level rise associated with climate change.


The Challenge

Already, abnormally high King Tides back up the city’s storm water drainage system.  New Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has established four priorities for her administration, one of which is developing a sustainable system of infrastructure throughout the City.  In response, the City’s sustainability manager, Daniel Hamilton, wants to design and implement a resilient storm water management system—one that can handle future changes in sea level.  He is hampered by the lack of relevant examples, tight budgets, and the fact that the City’s process for launching infrastructure projects doesn’t incorporate the effects of climate change.  Daniel wants to design a climate resilient storm system and use that success to amend the City’s decision and design process to include explicit consideration of climate change. To put it another way, he wants climate resilience to be a regular factor in all the City’s decision making and infrastructure development, and is using the design of a resilient storm water management system to lead that change.


An Abundance of Resilience in Oakland

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Oakland, California is facing a unique challenge increasingly faced by cities inundated by offers to increase their resilience.  In Oakland’s case, competing demands from resilience organizations are precluding the team from being able to define their scope. The city is a member of 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) and Bloomberg Associates, as well as several other organizations working on water issues, like sea level rise. In order to avoid redundancy in the team’s work, Daniel Hamilton has begun to search for a niche that Patrick and Brian can fill. The two scientists have shown patience, flexibility, and a willingness to assist in whatever capacity that is most useful for Oakland on this topic.
Daniel suggested that perhaps the next step for this project is for Patrick and Brian to meet with Oakland’s new Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), Kiran Jain. Kiran has less than four months to complete Oakland’s resilience strategy. Considering that TEX is a platform partner with 100RC, there may be an opportunity to align Patrick and Brian’s efforts and expertise with existing 100RC resilience efforts the city is currently undertaking. Stay tuned for more on this exciting project!

Project Scope Deliberation, a Field Traverse, and New Goals

All updates for this project

Project Team

The Community Lead


Daniel Hamilton has 18 years of experience in sustainable policy planning, design, and leadership. As the Sustainability Manager for the City of Oakland, Mr. Hamilton is focused on finding innovative and collaborative approaches to creating and maintaining a resilient and sustainable infrastructure to support the long term health of its residents.  The Oakland-TEX partnership is an exciting opportunity to incorporate climate change and sea level rise data into infrastructure planning and improvement.

The Scientific Liaisons


Patrick Hubbard has 30 years of geologic experience evaluating pathways of surface water and groundwater. His projects typically involve estimating the flow volume, direction, and rates, and chemical transport and fate. This Oakland-TEX challenge is exciting fit between his experience, his home city, city-leveraged/science-based action, and climate change adaptation.


Brian Rowley has over 15 years of experience in civil and environmental engineering with the California Department of Transportation. Since 2006, Mr. Rowley has focused on incorporating green stormwater management and low impact development measures into infrastructure projects. Professional interests include climate resilience and adaptation of infrastructure, especially in coastal environments. Mr. Rowley is a licensed Civil Engineer in the State of California.

Collaborating Organization(s)


ICLEI USA – Local Governments for Sustainability and American Geophysical Union (AGU)’s Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) partnered to advance knowledge and practices contributing to climate resilient communities across the United States.